And that's only the first of many miserable electric puns to come in this story. Whether your neighbor with the cattle spread or the local contractor is ready or not, his next truck will probably be electric, or at least a hybrid, or at least his son’s next truck. And the yowling can already be heard from Beaumont to El Paso. After all, the pickup truck is as Texan as bumper stickers saying "secede."
I know, I know. Some pointed-headed Ivy Leaguer in Detroit doesn't know squat about the needs of a working man and his truck. And besides, this whole "climate change" crap is hooey, right? Well, the answers are, yes he does and no.
I know, some people believe there are lizard people, we faked the moon landing and all the folks at the Oscar ceremony are secretly feasting on our progeny. So, selling climate change, which makes it sound like selling toilet paper or hemorrhoid cream, is pointless to them.
For the rest, firstly, despite the best efforts of my loopy talking head colleagues on TV and radio, climate change is real and if you don't trust the science, which is frankly depressing, trust good old, American corporate greed. Automakers want to make money, and they want to keep making money decades down the road. They don't make huge changes on a whim. They don't want to purposely piss off the folks who buy their products. And they are all, to a man and woman, betting on electric vehicles.
Here's a good example. I did media work for GM for a couple of years in the early years of this century, which is a hell of a strange thing to type, and heard this story about responding to customer desires. A focus group of Chevy truck owners were shown a mock-up of the new Silverado. All the advantages of the new vehicle, and details of the new interior were explained, including cup holders everywhere. One of them slid out of the top of the dash above the radio, and had been on the truck for a couple of years. That one bothered the group. Why? Because if you put a long neck in there, cops can see it sticking up above the dash. The GM engineers took notes, and it disappeared.
So this stuff matters, and the investments made, and vehicles that are already in the pipeline are evidence that the Big Three and their foreign competitors are convinced climate change is real, and are betting hundreds of F150 truckloads of cash on that. And they've known it for a while. GM built the all-electric EV1 back in 1996 and road tested it with consumers in the real world.
But here's the good part, in case you think we’ll all be consigned to driving Prius’s (Priii?), the trucks and cars are, as far as we can tell, absolutely terrific. But since this is Texas, I'll just deal with the domestic trucks. Some examples.
I mentioned the F150, a vehicle that has led the sales charts so long, it's the Meryl Streep of vehicles. If she's nominated for the aforesaid Oscar, just give the damn thing to her. Here's the new electric F150 Lightning...
Range is 230 miles and it can be had for under $40K. And the Lightning is a premium model. It boasts 563 horsepower with the extended range battery and the range goes up to 300 miles. For comparison, the current 5-liter V8 cranks out 400 ponies and gets 16 miles to the gallon (city). With the biggest fuel tank you can order, 36 gallons, it gets 576 miles out of a tank. And with the new truck, you can get an 80% charge in 40 minutes, while you eat lunch.
Ford also has this year, Ranger and Maverick pickups that are gas/hybrids.
As for Chevy, here's the 2024 Silverado EV...
Range is a bit more than the F150 at 400 miles. The truck produces up to 664 horsepower and can go from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. The Corvette does it in 3.3.
Some explanation is in order. You will find your electric truck is as fast as a sports car because the torque curve of an electric motor is linear, instantaneous. Unlike running up through the gears of a gas engine, which I admit is a blast, it is at full power immediately. Witness the next generation Hummer. Yeah, the Hummer is coming back, but it is not the profligate wastrel we once decried. That Hummer was at its core, a military vehicle with a veneer of civilization as thin as Angelina Jolie. This one? Well...
I'll just say, 1000 horsepower, 350 miles range and 0-60 in 3 seconds. And it will actually crab walk sideways.
At Chrysler, their Ram division will not be left behind.
It's all very mysterioso, but the new Ram pickup will offer a range of 500 miles, quick charging and will be very fast.
Now, I'm a Jeep guy and have an old, rattle-trap Wrangler sitting under my carport. But the next generation, on sale now, is electric/hybrid. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe does have a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, hooked to an electric hybrid powertrain. It can go 370 miles in total, but in the city, you can switch to electric power alone for zero emissions. The pigeons in the park and your grandfather will thank you.
And for folks who use their trucks for towing, the torque on an electric power plant is high and as instantaneous as the acceleration, which is to say, PDQ, pretty damned quick.
And of course, Toyota, Nissan and every other truck maker will have their versions as well. SUV’s large and small will share these drivetrains, and within a couple of generations, they will be the norm. Granted, it won’t stop the caterwauling, but at least you can turn off the radio to plug those pie-holes.
Hybrid/electric vehicles will be the transition cars and trucks from gas to electric, but make no mistake, all electric is coming. Transitions are tough sometimes, and we are all set in our ways. Physics tells us, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. But we don’t have that luxury, frankly, and some things we enjoy about internal combustion and the machines it powers, will be as unobtainable as a new Crosby, Stills & Nash album.
I love a manual gearshift, for example. In sports cars of my youth, and Jeeps in my later years, I like the tactile nature of coordinating a gear lever and clutch. My wife says that is neanderthal, and frankly, she's probably right. I wear topsiders year round and it drives her crazy, so I'm apparently unsalveagable. But there's no need for it with electric power. So, luckily, I'll be dead before I can't get gas for this old Jeep. Another sentence I can't believe I typed.
So, there will be lots of anger, misinformation and resentment about these developments. The Big 3 will be described as "woke" so many times, I will probably throw several laptops against the wall. But it’s coming.
After the first President Bush signed the Montreal Protocols banning CFC’s from our refrigerants due to ozone damage, the troglodytes on talk radio decried it as the end of air conditioning and somehow a return to living in caves, or something. We adapted and survived somehow, and we will survive this. Hay will be hauled, trailers pulled and lumber transported. Dogs will sit in the bed slobbering on the fender, tailgate parties will continue, and we’ll all learn more about batteries than we ever wanted to know.
Of course, we guys will have to find something to bitch about other than the price of gas. But I have faith in my state. We’ll find something.